Professional Football Player
Born in Bouake, Touré joined Premier League team Arsenal in February 2002 from ASEC Mimosas for a fee of £150,000 after a short trial. His status as a full international meant Touré was able to secure an English work permit.
Touré did not make his debut for the first team until the next season, against Liverpool in the FA Community Shield in August 2002. Initially regarded as a utility player, he started his Arsenal career as a midfielder as well as in right back. He scored his first Arsenal goal at Stamford Bridge in a 1–1 draw against Chelsea. Arsenal failed to retain the Premiership crown that season, but Touré made a big step in his career nonetheless, winning the FA Cup as an unused substitute in the final.
At the start of the 2003–04 season, Wenger began using Touré as a central defender alongside Sol Campbell. He formed a terrific partnership with Campbell, and had a great season when Arsenal went undefeated for the entire season. He, having previously been a striker or attacking midfielder, made a reputation for himself as being an attacking defender, although he only scored one goal and had one assist; he was very enthusiastic with his runs forward and from set-pieces.
Touré was in and out of the Arsenal team during the 2004–05 season, battling for a first team place with the likes of Phillipe Senderos and Pascal Cygan to play alongside Sol Campbell in defence. Touré ended the season with a FA Cup winners medal playing 50 times for Arsenal that season and scoring one goal. His only goal of the 2004–05 season came in the 90th minute of Arsenal's UEFA Champions League last 16 round tie against Bayern Munich of Germany. Arsenal lost the game 3–1.
Touré quickly established himself as one of the best centre backs in the Premier League. He established himself as a permanent fixture in the Arsenal starting XI, and a firm fan favourite. In the 2005–06 season, he established a formidable defensive partnership with Senderos. Both centre backs had immaculate form towards the end of the season, helping the Arsenal team reach the 2006 Champions League Final after keeping 10 consecutive clean sheets (a European competition record). After his imperious displays in the Champions League, his stock rose dramatically, he was now regarded as one of the finest in the world in his position. The Italian press even went as far as labeling him the "African Fabio Cannavaro" after Arsenal knocked Juventus out of the competition. Touré became widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the world after the Champions League run in 2006.
Touré scored his second European goal on 19 April 2006, the winner in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Villarreal CF. It was the final European goal scored at Highbury and the goal that effectively decided the tie (Arsenal won 1–0 on aggregate), to send Arsenal through to their first ever Champions League Final in Paris, France.
Touré was handed the number 5 shirt for the 2006–07 season, which had been vacant since the departure of Martin Keown. In August 2006, Touré signed a new four-year deal with Arsenal worth around £70,000 a week. "I can see myself staying here [at Arsenal] for the rest of my career," said Touré. "Why would I want to leave? I love my football here, my family is settled here, and the club is ambitious. It is fantastic." Despite the fact that Arsenal had a disappointing League campaign, Touré was his consistent self, and earned himself third place in the Arsenal Player of the season behind Gilberto Silva and Cesc Fàbregas.
Touré was the junior vice-captain in the 2006–07 season after former vice-captain Gilberto Silva and former captain Thierry Henry. He captained Arsenal for the first time on 9 January 2007 during a 6–3 victory over Liverpool in the League Cup. He also led the Gunners out for the final of this competition, having also captained them in the semi-final first leg against Tottenham Hotspur. He became the longest-serving member of the current Arsenal squad following the departures of Jeremie Aliadiere, Thierry Henry, and Fredrik Ljungberg during the summer transfer window in 2007. He also captained Arsenal in a string of games early in the 2007–08 season after captain William Gallas was injured in the game against Blackburn Rovers. He has been having another great campaign in 2007–08, forming a very effective partnership with fellow defender William Gallas. He scored a free kick in a match against Bolton Wanderers, where his shot was low and went under two Bolton players and beat Jussi Jääskeläinen. However, during the Africa Cup of Nations, he suffered an injury and looked a bit out of place when he returned, and then injured himself again in the Champions League against AC Milan when he blocked Alexandre Pato's shot with his leg, and was carried off the pitch after treatment. Touré returned to the starting lineup against Middlesbrough on 15 March and scored the equalising goal for Arsenal in the final 10 minutes. In the Champions League quarter-finals, he was pushed into the unfamiliar right back position where Arsenal were drawing 2-2 with Liverpool. But, in the 86th minute, Touré was judged to have pushed Ryan Babel in the box to give them a penalty. Arsène Wenger, however, defended Touré, saying that the referee made a wrong decision. Steven Gerrard took the penalty and scored. The score ended 4-2 to Liverpool with an injury time goal from Babel.
On 1 January 2009, Touré demanded a move away from Arsenal after a reputed bust-up with defensive partner Gallas. He reportedly handed in a transfer request which was later turned down by Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood. However, Touré temporarily reversed his decision and committed to the Gunners at least until the summer.
After much transfer speculation, it was announced on 28 July 2009 that Manchester City had agreed a fee of £12 million for Touré. After he successfully passed a medical in Manchester on 29 July 2009, Touré signed a four-year contract with the club of which has the option of extending by a further five years. City, who finished 10th the previous season, had made a number high-profile signings in preparation for the 2009–10 season, and Touré hopes to help make City a top four team. He was appointed the club captain by former manager, Mark Hughes. He scored his first goal for Manchester City in a 2–1 League Cup win over Fulham on 23 September 2009. He scored his first league goal for City against Burnley on 7 November 2009.
Touré has played for Côte d'Ivoire since 2000. His debut was in April 2000 against Rwanda. He is a first choice central defender. He played in all five games for the Côte d'Ivoire as they finished runners up to the hosts in the African Cup of Nations in Egypt in January 2006.
He was named in the 23-man squad taken by coach Henri Michel to the 2006 FIFA World Cup and made his first appearance in a FIFA World Cup on 11 June 2006 in Côte d'Ivoire's 2–1 loss to Argentina.
He has scored two goals for the Ivory Coast in his 76 caps to date, both headers against Gabon (H) and Tajikistan (A) respectively. He also scored against Algeria in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, but his goal was erroneously ruled offside.
Touré is known for his pace and power, which enables him to force weaker attackers off the ball and to keep up with pacy strikers. He possesses good marking ability and most of his tackles are well timed which has contributed to his relatively good disciplinary record. Although relatively short for a centre-back, he makes up for it with an impressive vertical leap.